Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in Catalonia. Group Swim in Barcelona. Credit: Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press. from The New York Times, December 15, 2011
Chrisas Day, the big event is a group swim in the chilly waters of the Mediterranean  off  Barcelona.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

APRIL 2, 2015: PCC BORDERS OF DIVERSITY STUDENT CONFERENCE & KEYNOTE SPEAKER BRIAN TURNER





BRIAN TURNER
  Veteran, Poet, and Essayist
PCC Borders of Diversity Student Conference
 keynote speaker

Monday, December 1, 2014

1B: James Joyce (1882-1941)




Want to read a biographical sketch of James Joyce? Take a look at the Joyce biography page at The Brazen Head: A James Joyce Public House, the self-proclaimed best Joyce page on the web, and www.biography.com. The latter has a good written overview and video of Joyce's life. There is also the video, below, about Joyce that you might find of interest; however, if you are in the mood for watching a video, try the www.biography.com first; you might find it a little--a lot!-- more livelier.  I did.



From The New York Times, July 6, 1961, Ernest Hemingway's admiration of James Joyce is highlighted: "Hemingway was quick to see the merit in the work of James Joyce. . . . In a letter to Sherwood Anderson dated March 9, 1922, Hemingway wrote:

"'Joyce has written a most goddam wonderful book (Ulysses) * * *. Meantime the report is that he and all his family are starving, but you can find the whole Celtic crew of them in Michaud,' (then a moderately expensive Paris eating place).


"Nevertheless, on several occasions Hemingway contributed to the funds raised to aid Joyce, with whom he did a considerable amount of stout drinking in Paris. When Joyce's Ulysses was pirated in the United States, Hemingway was one of the organizers of the protest which bore the names of many of the most distinguished figures in world literature."





James Joyce: "A small, thin unathletic man with very bad eyes," the narrator
 of the above video says, so Hemingway stood between Joyce and a punch.



Joyce is known for four works of fiction, beginning with the collection of short stories Dubliners (Joyce attempted to publish in 1905; finally published in 1914), which contains 15 stories, including "Araby." Many of the stories have been staged in the theatre and made into films.  John Huston directed "The Dead" in 1987, based on the last story in the collection.  You can see a trailer of the film, or watch the complete film at Veoh. Here is an excerpt from The Dead's stage production from 2000.

News about Joyce's Dubliners, from "Joyce's Town"The New York Times: "In 1905, James Joyce wrote to the publisher Grant Richards: 'I do not think that any writer has yet presented Dublin to the world. It has been a capital of Europe for thousands of years, it is supposed to be the second city of the British Empire, and it is nearly three times as big as Venice.'

"But Joyce’s view of the city in Dubliners, his landmark collection of stories, had less grandeur than that pitch. The Dublin-based writer Mark O’Connell recently wrote on Slate that Dublin in the book 'is a claustrophobic place, a place of entrapment and congenital disappointment, filled with frustrated people living thwarted lives. It is in every sense a small city.'

"On Tuesday, Penguin Classics is publishing a centennial edition of the book with a new foreword by Colum McCann, who writes that Dubliners, published nearly a decade after Joyce wrote the stories in it, 'was ripped up, burned, bowdlerized, rejected, resurrected, lost, dismissed, forgotten, thrown away, flogged, flayed and eventually celebrated.' A century later, it’s all celebration. In June, the fledgling Irish publisher Tramp Press will issue Dubliners 100, in which contemporary writers reimagine the collection’s 15 stories. Contributors include Patrick McCabe, Paul Murray, Eimear McBride and, perhaps bravest of all, Peter Murphy, who takes on 'The Dead,' considered by some the best story ever written." (Source: The New York Times, "Joyce's Town," by John Williams, May 23, 2014)


Joyce also wrote three novels: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Ulysses (1922), and Finnegans Wake (1939). You can read Joyce's Ulysses here. 

Ulysses tells the story of Leopold Bloom as he travels around Dublin one June 16, 1904, known as Bloomsday, and fans of the novel celebrate it with public readings of its more than 700 pages. Influenced by Homer's poem The Odyssey, Joyce also pays homage to numerous literary styles.  It was published to much acclaim for its sophisticated stylistic achievement and daring experimental features, including the so-called ""stream of consciousness," which takes the reader inside the mind of its characters. It has also attracted much controversy from the days of its publication when it was serialized in a literary magazine.  Frequently banned and considered obscene for its depiction of a character masturbating the U.S. Post Office burned copies of it during the 1920s upon its arrival in the U.S.

Finnegans Wake, a novel that Joyce worked on from 1922 until its publication in 1939, is far more experimental. Read it here.






Marilyn Monroe, unlike many dedicated readers, read to the end of Ulysses, we are to believe.


Here's a summary of Ulysses, with a particular focus on Molly Bloom, wife of the protagonist Leopold Bloom, and the book's legal and moralistic reception.  Roger Marsh explains  that "[T]he final chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses is one of the most famous – some would say notorious – pieces of writing in 20th-century literature. It’s famous because, although very long, it’s written entirely without punctuation, as a so called ‘stream of consciousness’. It’s notorious because it was this chapter, principally, that got the book banned for 12 years following its first publication.

"In 1922, the arbiters of taste and decency in the English speaking world were not yet ready for explicit and intimate discussion of sex, especially from the mouth of a woman (even if they were put there by a male author). Nowadays, such explicit material is less remarkable and even the lack of punctuation seems less challenging in a world of text-speak. Even so, it’s hard to read, because Molly’s sleepy interior monologue drifts realistically from topic to topic, introducing thoughts and fragments of thoughts without warning, as they occur in real life. . . . 

"Molly, meanwhile, remains at home, mostly in bed. The highlight of her day, as [her husband Leopold] Bloom well knows, is the arrival at 4pm of her most recent lover, Blazes Boylan. Boylan is a concert impresario who has organised a concert tour for Molly, and he has arranged to come over to her house and ‘go through the programme’ with her. Bloom knows full well what this means, and so, it seems, does the whole of Dublin. More than one of Bloom’s associates, when he informs them of the impending tour, asks him knowingly ‘who’s getting it up?’

"Normal marital relations between Leopold and Molly have, we learn, been non-existent for some years, ever since the death of their young son Rudi, which tore them apart. Molly, however, is a passionate, sexual woman in her prime, and the list of her lovers, all known to her husband, is long. Thus when Bloom climbs the stairs and prepares for bed in the early hours of 17 June, he takes up his usual position, his head at the foot of the double bed, muttering vaguely about eggs.

"At this point begins the long interior monologue – 22,000 words – which closes the novel. Bloom’s day is done, but Molly – having spent the day in bed, one way or another, is not finding sleep easy. Her mind races, first taking up the half-heard comment about eggs, and then quickly moving on to reminiscences of the distant and recent past. She recalls her husband’s pathetic attempts at infidelity, and her own rather more successful ones – these in very graphic detail. She assumes that Bloom ‘came somewhere’ – he did, but not in the way she imagines – and speculates about his latest liaisons. Often her mind drifts back to Gibraltar, where she lived as a girl, and to her father and other characters of those days. From time to time the songs she is to perform on the concert tour come into her head. In particular, the popular ‘Love’s Old Sweet Song’ pre-occupies her – how to enunciate certain words, and the protracted note on the word ‘so-o-o-ong’, which seems to be echoed by passing trains: ‘frseeeeeeeefronnnng train somewhere whistling…’. Unable to move much in bed for fear of waking her husband, she also wrestles with bodily discomforts (wind, the onset of her period) and eventually finds it necessary to slip out and use the chamber pot beside the bed.

"Finally, towards dawn, she begins to succumb to sleep. Romantically, her final thoughts are of the day that she agreed to marry Bloom (‘well as well him as another’) lying in the grass up on Howth Head above Dublin Bay, and she remembers how she got him to propose to her. There is an inevitability about her answer, for throughout the soliloquy Molly has punctuated her stream of consciousness with the word ‘yes’, thrown in almost as a marker for a new topic or a change of mood. As the chapter reaches its closing lines, the appearance of the word ‘yes’ increases in regularity, until the final line reads: ‘he could feel my breast all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.’ And here Joyce writes the chapter’s only full stop."



Joyce visiting with American expatriate Sylvia Beach,
 proprietor of the celebrated bookstore Shakespeare & Co.,
 in Paris, circa 1922. Beech was a champion of Joyce's Ulysses.

Good Students, Good Colleges


The New York Times, November 29, 2014

For Accomplished Students, Reaching a Good College Isn’t as Hard as It Seems

by Kevin Carey
Earlier this year, Harvard announced that it had accepted 5.9 percent of the nearly 35,000 students who applied for admission to the class of 2018. The next day, Stanford announced an even more exacting 5.07 percent admission rate, the lowest in the university’s history.
Statistics like these have come to dominate the national narrative of elite college admissions, with each new batch of ever-more-minuscule success rates fueling a collective sense that getting into a good college has become a brutal, “Hunger Games"-style tournament that only the fittest survive.
That story is wrong. For well-qualified students, getting into a good college isn’t difficult. It probably isn’t that much harder than it was generations ago. The fact that everyone believes otherwise shows how reliance on a single set of data — in this case, institutional admission rates — can create a false sense of what’s really going on.
To start, it’s worth noting that the headline-inducing single-digit rates reported by Harvard and Stanford are unusual even for elite institutions. Washington University in St. Louis, ranked 14th nationally by U.S. News & World Report, admitted 17 percent of applicants this year. Notre Dame admitted 21 percent, Wellesley 28 percent, and the University of Michigan 32 percent. Still, those numbers are low and have been declining in each case.

Photo

CreditHisashi Okawa

They don’t, however, represent the true odds of a well-qualified student’s being admitted to a top school. That’s because anyone can apply to college, well qualified or otherwise. Selective colleges immediately toss the long shots and dreamers from the admissions pile in order to concentrate on students with a legitimate shot at getting in. But they don’t parse their admissions statistics that way, in part because it’s in their best interests to seem as selective as possible. Admission rates are among the most closely watched barometers of institutional prestige. The fact that Stanford’s rate beat Harvard’s for the last two years has been cited as prime evidence that Palo Alto may be eclipsing Cambridge in higher-education glory.
Institutional admission rates also don’t account for the number of applications submitted per student. Enabled by technology that makes it easier to copy and send electronic documents and driven by the competitive anxiety that plummeting admission rates produce, top students have beensending out more applications. In May, for example, a Long Island high school senior named Kwasi Enin was briefly famous for having applied to, and been accepted by, all eight Ivy League schools.
But while the best students are sending out more applications for the same number of slots at elite colleges, the slots themselves aren’t becoming more scarce and the number of students competing with one another isn’t growing. In essence, the growth in applications per student creates a vicious cycle, causing admission rates at the best schools to artificially decline, students to become more anxious, and the number of applications per student to grow even more.
Finally, the most important priority for most highly qualified students isn’t getting into a particular elite school. It’s getting into at least one, because elite schools are generally pretty similar in their eliteness, and you can attend only one at a time.
That’s why some students are applying to 20 or more schools: to increase their odds of making a single match. The most important elite college admissions statistic, then, is not the percentage of applications top schools accept. It’s the percentage of top students who are admitted to at least one top school. And that number isn’t 5 percent or 20 percent or even 50 percent. It’s 80 percent. It turns out that four out of five well-qualified students who apply to elite schools are accepted by at least one.
These numbers come courtesy of Parchment.com, a website that helps students submit college transcripts electronically and navigate the admissions world. Services like Parchment and the Common Application are among the reasons it has become easier for students to submit more applications and drive down institutional admission rates. This year, 800,000 students used Parchment to send more than 1.6 million transcripts.
Parchment began by identifying a subset of students with combined SAT scores (or an ACT equivalent) of at least 1300. Then it identified high-scoring students who had applied to at least one of the 113 schools identified by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges as the most selective. The average overall admission rate among those schools was about 32 percent. Yet 51 percent of the applications submitted by top Parchment students to the same colleges were accepted. Why? Because top schools receive a substantial number of applications from underqualified students who are almost always summarily rejected. Once the wheat and chaff are separated, the success rate for the wheat looks much better.
And the real odds of success were even higher than 51 percent. The top students in the Parchment database applied to 2.6 elite colleges, on average. Flip a coin twice and, according to probability theory, you’ll get heads at least once 75 percent of the time. Sure enough, 80 percent of top students were accepted to at least one elite school.
Since there has never been a time when 100 percent of well-qualified students were successful in the college admissions market, the truism that elite colleges are far more difficult to crack than in years gone by can’t be correct: 80 percent is too close, mathematically, to nearly everyone.
This doesn’t mean that aspiring students can drop out of the college admissions rat race entirely. There’s a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses aspect to sending out applications. The Parchment data suggest that students who apply to many schools are more likely to strike gold than those who apply to only one or two, which makes sense given the idiosyncrasy of the admissions process.
But this is mostly a matter of optimizing odds that are very good to begin with. So the next time you read about terrifyingly low college admission rates, don’t panic: If you work hard and get good grades and test scores, there is very likely a place in the best schools for you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

College Degree: Good News, Bad News




Robert Reich: College gets you nowhere

[The former secretary of labor examines why a degree no longer guarantees a well-playing job]

This is the time of year when high school seniors apply to college, and when I get lots of mail about whether college is worth the cost.
The answer is unequivocally yes, but with one big qualification. I’ll come to the qualification in a moment but first the financial case for why it’s worth going to college.
Put simply, people with college degrees continue to earn far more than people without them. And that college “premium” keeps rising.
Last year, Americans with four-year college degrees earned on average 98 percent more per hour than people without college degrees.
In the early 1980s, graduates earned 64 percent more.
So even though college costs are rising, the financial return to a college degree compared to not having one is rising even faster.
But here’s the qualification, and it’s a big one.

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His new movie "Inequality for All" is in Theaters. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

John F. Kennedy: His Assassination, November 22, 1963



In a brief discussion with students in one of my classes last week, I learned that many could not place the date of John Kennedy's assassination. On the anniversary of his assassination here's a film that can serve as a review, or an introduction to it:





This biography of John F. Kennedy is taken from the official White House government website.  You can also find links to biographies of all 44 presidents at this page.  The History Channel has report on the day of the assassination. CBS presents photographs of the day.


On November 22, 1963, when he was hardly past his first thousand days in office, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed by an assassin's bullets as his motorcade wound through Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was the youngest man elected President; he was the youngest to die.

Of Irish descent, [Kennedy] was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. Graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the Navy. In 1943, when his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety.
Back from the war, he became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, advancing in 1953 to the Senate. He married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history.
In 1956 Kennedy almost gained the Democratic nomination for Vice President, and four years later was a first-ballot nominee for President. Millions watched his television debates with the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon. Winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote, Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic President.
His Inaugural Address offered the memorable injunction: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." As President, he set out to redeem his campaign pledge to get America moving again. His economic programs launched the country on its longest sustained expansion since World War II; before his death, he laid plans for a massive assault on persisting pockets of privation and poverty.
Responding to ever more urgent demands, he took vigorous action in the cause of equal rights, calling for new civil rights legislation. His vision of America extended to the quality of the national culture and the central role of the arts in a vital society.
He wished America to resume its old mission as the first nation dedicated to the revolution of human rights. With the Alliance for Progress and the Peace Corps, he brought American idealism to the aid of developing nations. But the hard reality of the Communist challenge remained.
Shortly after his inauguration, Kennedy permitted a band of Cuban exiles, already armed and trained, to invade their homeland. The attempt to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro was a failure. Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union renewed its campaign against West Berlin. Kennedy replied by reinforcing the Berlin garrison and increasing the Nation's military strength, including new efforts in outer space. Confronted by this reaction, Moscow, after the erection of the Berlin Wall, relaxed its pressure in central Europe.
Instead, the Russians now sought to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. When this was discovered by air reconnaissance in October 1962, Kennedy imposed a quarantine on all offensive weapons bound for Cuba. While the world trembled on the brink of nuclear war, the Russians backed down and agreed to take the missiles away. The American response to the Cuban crisis evidently persuaded Moscow of the futility of nuclear blackmail.
Kennedy now contended that both sides had a vital interest in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and slowing the arms race--a contention which led to the test ban treaty of 1963. The months after the Cuban crisis showed significant progress toward his goal of "a world of law and free choice, banishing the world of war and coercion." His administration thus saw the beginning of new hope for both the equal rights of Americans and the peace of the world.
The Presidential biographies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.
This collage remembers the four major
political assassinations in the United States during the 1960s. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

1B: Raymond Carver (1938-1988)

Raymond Carver (1938-88) said in a 1977 interview,
 “I am beginning to feel like a cigarette with a body attached to it.”
Photograph by Bob Adelman, Syracuse, New York, 1984.

"A writer ought to speak about things that are important to him. . . . I tend to go back to the time and the people I knew well when I was younger and who made a very strong impression on me . . . . most of the people in my stories are poor and bewildered, that's true. The economy, that's important . . . I don't feel I'm a political writer and yet I've been attacked by right-wing critics in the U.S.A. who blame me for not painting a more smiling picture of America, for not being optimistic enough, for writing stories about the people who don't succeed. But these lives are as valid as those of the go-getters. Yes, I take unemployment, money problems, and marital problems as givens in life. People worry about their rent, their children, their home life. That's basic. That's how 80-90 percent, or God knows how many people live. I write stories about a submerged population, people who don't always have someone to speak for them. I'm sort of a witness, and, besides, that's the life I myself lived for a long time. I don't see myself as a spokesman but as a witness to these lives. I'm a writer."
--Raymond Carver

The above remarks by Carver were taken from an interview he did in spring 1987. For the complete text of this interview and one other with Carver, view this link.


Things to do when you're reading Carver







One:  [Recommended.] Watch the videos, above, about Carver.
Two: [Recommended.] Read the Carver pages at the Poetry Foundation.
Three: [Recommended.Read Carver's interview with the Paris Review, from Summer 1983.
Four: [Recommended]:  Read articles, take your pick, on Carver that are linked at The New York Times.
Five: [Recommended]: Visit The New Yorker's Raymond Carver page.  The magazine has published many of Carver's stories and remembrances of him over the years.
The New Yorker has been in the process of redesigning its Carver pages.  The following links may or may not work:
The draft of the story, "Beginners," which became "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," can be found  here. The Gordon Lish edited version--"Beginners," heavily edited might now be found at The New Yorker site. [Unfortunately, The New Yorker has either removed the edited version, or moved it. However, there is a brief sample here. ].  Lish's edits are an excellent example of the dynamics, or call it the conflict, that exist between writer and editor. See a discussion of Carver's July 8, 1980 letter to Lish, protesting recent editorial cuts (some as much as 70%) of his collection of stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.  Letters from Carver to Lish, including the July 8, 1980 Carver letter to Lish, can be found here. Now that you are an expert on "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," I invite you to read "What We Talk About When We Talk About Doughnuts," from The New Yorker,  May 10, 1999.





Raymond Carver, Summer 1969. Photograph by Gordon Lish

Six: The Library of America publishes, as they say, "Authoritative texts of great American writing." They have a page on Carver. They also made a statement on Gordon Lish's editing of "Beginners"/"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" and a letter, a tortured letter, by Carver with a plea to Lish to return the story more closely to the original. The Library of America's statement and Carver's letter appears here.
Seven:  Thanks to Andy Ngo of English 1B, here's "The Bath" in PDF. If this link is broken, find "The Bath" at this site.
Eight: Find an early version of "So Much Water So Close to Home" right here. Please note, however, that this version incorrectly includes a question mark ("?") at the end of the story; it should end with a period.

Redesign of Raymond Carver book covers by Todd Hido

Nine: Carver's stories have inspired a number of films.  They include  Short Cuts by Robert Altman (and a cast of dozens, at least).  Go here to read an interview with filmmaker Altman and poet Tess Gallagher, Carver's widow. Here's Roger Ebert's review of Short Cuts. A list of other Carver-inspired films can be found at IMDB.
Ten: Want to learn more about Carver and his editor, Gordon Lish? Read this from The New York Review of Books.   Thanks to former English 1B student Oshin Edralin, we have a YouTube video to watch about Lish and Carver. Here it is:



Eleven: [Recommended]:  For poetry by Carver go to this site at the Poetry Foundation and click the tab for "Poems, Articles and More." Poetry Soup has a pretty good sample of his poetry, too, as does All Poetry.


Carver described, in a Paris Review interview from the Summer 1983 issue, his writing process and the hard but pleasurable work involved in doing revisions: 

"Much of this work time, understand, is given over to revising and rewriting. There's not much that I like better than to take a story that I've had around the house for a while and work it over again. It's the same with the poems I write. I'm in no hurry to send something off just after I write it, and I sometimes keep it around the house for months doing this or that to it, taking this out and putting that in. It doesn't take that long to do the first draft of the story, that usually happens in one sitting, but it does take a while to do the various versions of the story. I've done as many as twenty or thirty drafts of a story. Never less than ten or twelve drafts."

For The Paris Review's complete interview with Carver, visit this page.

Group work at its finest? Or a staged photo op? From left to right, clockwise: Kary, Elizabeth, Elia, 
Nancy, Sara, and Stephanie, take on Carver's "Fever" at Shatford Library. (June 1, 2011.)

The Carver Gang discussing "What We Talk About When We Talk About Caffeine."
Clockwise, left to right: Stephanie, Tina, Sara, Kary, Brian, Some Guy, Kim and Nancy. June 8, 2011.

In the Paris Review interview, published in the Summer 1983 issue, Carver also discussed the purpose and pleasure of fiction:

"The days are gone, if they were ever with us, when a novel or a play or a book of poems could change people's ideas about the world they live in or even about themselves. Maybe writing fiction about particular kinds of people living particular kinds of lives will allow certain areas of life to be understood a little better than they were understood before. But I'm afraid that's it, at least as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps it's different in poetry. . . . Good fiction is partly a bringing of the news from one world to another. That end is good in and of itself, I think. But changing things through fiction, changing somebody's political affiliation or the political system itself, or saving the whales or the redwood trees, no. Not if these are the kinds of changes you mean. And I don't think it should have to do any of these things, either. It doesn't have to do anything. It just has to be there for the fierce pleasure we take in doing it, and the different kind of pleasure that's taken in reading something that's durable and made to last, as well as beautiful in and of itself. Something that throws off these sparks—a persistent and steady glow, however dim."

For The Paris Review's complete interview with Carver, visit this page.

"I'm not a 'born' poet. I don't know if I'm a 'born' anything except a white American male,Carver said of himself in the Paris Review interview from the Summer 1983 issue. Photograph by Marion Ettlinger for Carver's 1985 poetry collection, Where Water Comes Together With Other Water.

1A & 1B: Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

Hemingway Passport Photo, 1923


The New York Times has posted their extensive collection of Ernest Hemingway articles. You'll find links to his life story, book reviews, author commentaries, interviews and audio recordings.

Here's the first paragraph of a July 11, 1999 article summarizing his life:

Hemingway in Our Times

By MICHAEL REYNOLDS
 
On October 18, 1925, an American writer, not yet turned twenty-six, was first reviewed in The New York Times, whose anonymous critic called his short stories "lean, pleasing, with tough resilience," "fibrous," "athletic," "fresh," "hard," and "clean," almost as if an athlete, not a book, was being reviewed. Hemingway had that effect on reviewers and readers alike. His prose style was dramatically different, demanding equally new ways of describing it. Not more than a handful of the newspaper's readers likely knew the Hemingway name, but the review of "In Our Time" could not have been more propitious.

The above article continues here.

PBS American Masters presents a timeline of Hemingway's life. Another PBS page, this one for Michael Palin's "Hemingway Adventures," is a great place to start to learn about Hemingway. Palin, a formerly of the English comedy group, Monty Python, can be seen here on his "Hemingway Adventures," or search Michael Palin and Hemingway at YouTube

Hemingway was interviewed by the Paris Review for its Spring 1958 issue.  Conducted by editor George Plimpton, Hemingway talks about his writing methods and theories.  

Hemingway wrote often about war. Read "Hemingway on War and Its Aftermath" for a good overview of the topic.  You can find it here.


The copy of In Our Time, above, reports bookseller The Manhattan Rare Book Company, "is a FIRST EDITION, one of only 170 numbered copies, printed on Rives hand-made paper, of Hemingway's second book. With woodcut portrait  frontispiece after Henry Strater."

Published in "Paris [by]: Three Mountains Press, 1924. Tall octavo, original publisher's decorated tan paper boards; custom cloth box. Bookplate on front pastedown. A few spots of rubbing to spine, one corner lightly bumped; boards a little bowed; usual discoloration to endpapers. A very nice copy. $36,500."

It gets better.  As of October 8, 2014, Abe Books was listing a first edition copy of In Our Time for $75,000. 

Yes,  you read that right.  It is not a typo.  $75,000.  The lesson: don't sell your books back to the bookstore.  Unless they are giving you a very good price.

Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn

HBO premiered Hemingway and Gellhorn, with Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, on May 28th, 2012. (It was not a hit with the critics.) Hemingway and Gellhorn met in 1936 and were married from 1940-45.  Gellhorn was a distinguished writer and among the most  important correspondents of the 20th Century, reporting on the Spanish Civil War (alongside Hemingway), the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, and the Vietnam and the Arab-Israeli wars.  Here's the trailer for the film:











Hemingway's Literary and Artistic Influences

James Joyce
from The New York Times, July 6, 1961, Ernest Hemingway speaks of James Joyce, one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century:

"Hemingway was quick to see the merit in the work of James Joyce. . . . In a letter to Sherwood Anderson dated March 9, 1922, Hemingway wrote:

"'Joyce has written a most goddam wonderful book (Ulysses) * * *. Meantime the report is that he and all his family are starving, but you can find the whole Celtic crew of them in Michaud,' (then a moderately expensive Paris eating place).

"Nevertheless, on several occasions Hemingway contributed to the funds raised to aid Joyce, with whom he did a considerable amount of stout drinking in Paris. When Joyce's "Ulysses" was pirated in the United States Hemingway was one of the organizers of the protest which bore the names of many of the most distinguished figures in world literature."

You can read James Joyce's Ulysses here.  It was published in 1922 to much acclaim and controversy.  Regarding the latter, some thought it to be a "dirty book."  Finnegans Wake, a novel that Joyce worked on from 1922 until its publication in 1939, is far more experimental.  Read it here.

"Portrait of Gertrude Stein"
 by Picasso (1906)

Hemingway was influenced by many writers and artists early in his career, among them Gertrude Stein, who was known for her literary and artistic salon in Paris after World War I.  Dennis Ryan examines Stein's influence on Hemingway's early career--she critiqued his prose--in his article "Dating Hemingway's Early Style/Parsing Gertrude Stein's Modernism".  Stein was a fierce experimentalist, and you can read a sample of her work here.

Hemingway wrote about his time in Paris in his nonfiction account, A Moveable Feast.  Alfred Kazin's essay, "Hemingway as his Own Fable," from The Atlantic, June 1964, reviews Hemingway's book and offers some insight to his autobiographical impulses as seen in his prose.
Cezanne's "Mont Sainte-Victoire
 Seen from Les Lauves" (1904-06)
 
Artists like Paul Cezanne were also important models for Hemingway, who claimed that he made repeated visits to museum galleries to see how the post-Impressionist captured the landscape. While in Paris during the 1920s, Hemingway also came to know Pablo Picasso and would later make a film about The Spanish Civil War, the subject of Picasso's famous "Guernica".



Picasso's "Guernica" (1937)
 portrays the destruction of Guernica, Spain
 by German and Italian bombers during the Spanish Civil War

Hemingway filming The Spanish Earth (1937),
the story of Spain's Republican resistance
 of fascist Gen. Francisco Franco,
 who had the support of Nazi Germany and Italy.
Written with John Dos Passos,
 Hemingway also served as the film's narrator.




The Spanish Earth is a 55 minute film. You can watch it above.

The "real" Hemingway, as he is presented
 in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris."

More "real" Hemingway
 from "Midnight in Paris."



There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

--Ernest Hemingway